Water for a Thirsty Soul (Psalm 63:1-4)
When I started cycling here in Houston, I quickly learned the wind can be a real issue; there were days, I’d go ride around the neighborhood and come straight back home.
So, when I got my Christmas money this past year, there was one thing I wanted to buy–a spin bike, a trainer. It’s not like an exercise bike from years past. Instead, it uses Bluetooth to connect to an app on my phone. The app gives me different routes to ride with different surfaces and elevation. The bike automatically adjusts tension for elevation, and it gives you an experience just like ridding outside.
Well, that’s not exactly true—riding the trainer is more difficult, at least for me, than riding outside. It’s far more enjoyable to be outside on the road in the fresh air, but it’s a much better workout on the trainer. I know that for three reasons: (1) My legs are far sorer after being on the trainer; (2) I burn far more calories on the trainer; and (3) I sweat profusely. The sweat puddles under me—I had to buy a mat to catch it. Some of the screws in the bike’s frame have rusted from my sweat.
Because I sweat so much, I am parched when I get done. I will get a 20 ounce PowerAde Zero and gulp it—sometimes I’ll gulp the whole bottle at once. I’d been thirsty before, but I don’t think I’ve ever been thirstier as when I get off my trainer. I honestly didn’t know someone could get so thirsty.
I know you’ve been thirsty plenty of times. Maybe you took a bite of something spicy, and you immediately grabbed a water. Maybe you had to have a medical procedure, and you couldn’t drink all day—you thought you’d die of thirst by the time it was over. Maybe you know thirst from mowing your yard on a hot Texas day. Maybe you have diabetes and the first symptom was your insatiable thirst.
David was in the wilderness, and he was thirsty. He wasn’t thirsty for water—instead, his soul thirst for God. David twice had to flee Jerusalem for his life. He fled when Saul sought to kill him, and he fled again when Absalom rebelled and usurped the throne. I imagine David wrote this Psalm when he was fleeing from Absalom. I say that because the Psalm displays the wisdom and maturity of an older man. David displayed that wisdom and maturity in his desire to worship in the assembly of God’s people.
This morning, we wish to learn from David’s wisdom and maturity that we might long to worship with God’s saints. We wish to learn this truth: “The righteous soul longs to worship God in the assembly.”
Scripture (Psalm 63:1-4)
David began the psalm with a personal affirmation of faith: “O God, you are my God.” Yahweh wasn’t simply the God of the Israelites; David himself had a relationship with God. As you read David’s psalms, you find an intimate relationship with God. The king walked with God and sought to honor the Lord.
David’s intimacy with God is evidenced by his statement that he sought God earnestly. The Hebrew word for “earnestly” refers to the dawn, the first part of the day. The idea is first things first—the very first thing David was going to do was to seek God.
Poetically, through the use of metaphors about thirst in the desert, David demonstrated just how deeply he wanted an intimate relationship with God. David needed God in his life just as a man dying of thirst in the desert needs water.
David had looked upon God in the sanctuary; there he witnessed God’s power and glory. David’s use of “sanctuary” lets us know he speaks of the worship assembly. The sanctuary—the tabernacle—was the place the Israelites worshiped God assembled together. At the sanctuary, David had seen God’s power and glory. In the worship assembly, David had come to understand God’s power and glory.
Notice the past tense used here. David, far from the tabernacle and unable to join with others in worship, remembered the blessings he had when he had gathered in the assembly of God’s saints.
Notice the future tense used here. Not only had David gathered at the tabernacle prior to be forced into the wilderness, he would worship at the tabernacle again once God had restored him to Jerusalem; he would worship there as long as he lived.
David’s basis for worship was God’s steadfast love. God’s steadfast love refers to his commitment to keep his covenant. The idea is that since God kept his word to his people because of Abraham, David would worship him assembled with God’s people.
David couldn’t wait to escape the wilderness, go back to Jerusalem, enter the tabernacle, and worship just as he had in the past. David’s history of worship and his desire to worship in the future demonstrate: “The righteous soul longs to worship God in the assembly.”
The assembly of God’s modern people on the Lord’s Day is important.
- Immediately after the church’s establishment, the first Christians were “attending the temple together” (Acts 2:46).
- On Paul’s third missionary journey, he and his companions arrived at Troas, where they stayed seven days (Acts 20:6). Why stay seven days at one place when you’re on a journey? “On the first day of the week, . . . [they] were gathered together to break bread” (Acts 20:7). Think about that—Paul changed his itinerary by a whole week so he could worship in the assembly.
- About abuses at the Lord’s Supper, Paul wrote, “When you come together to eat, wait for one another” (1 Cor 11:33). The Lord’s Supper was to be taken in unity with other believers in the assembly.
- The Hebrew Christians were to stir each other to love and good works, “not neglecting to meet together” (Heb 10:25). Why would God inspire the author to urge attendance at the assembly if it weren’t important?
Let me ask you a question: “How can you be a righteous soul who longs to worship God beside your brothers and sisters?”
David powerfully opened this Psalm: “O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you.” For David Yahweh wasn’t simply the God of Israel. Rather, Yahweh was his personal God with whom he had a relationship and whom he reverenced.
If you are to be a righteous soul who longs to worship God in the assembly, the Lord needs to be your personal God. In other words, you need to make a commitment to serve God. God calls on you to make a commitment to serve him. Matthew 22:37-38. “Any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple” (Lk 14:33). God expects you to make a commitment to make him the Lord of your life, to make him more important than anyone or anything else.
How does such a commitment impact your worship in the assembly? Simply put: Worship will be a priority—you will want to come to the assembly and worship your God. You see, when you make a commitment to serve God, worship will be more important than the ballgame, staying in bed, recreation, family, or anything else. When God has the proper place in your life, you will do whatever you can to worship.
Take a look at your life—Is God truly the Lord of your life?
David recounted the blessings he gained from worship in the assembly—He had looked upon God and had seen his power and glory.
The righteous soul who longs to worship God in the assembly will cling, like David, to memories of past worship. Think back over the blessings you’ve gained in the assembly.
- Did the word penetrate your heart to lead you to repentance and salvation in Jesus?
- Did a hymn lift your heart as you faced some trial?
- Did the Lord’s Supper strengthen you as you remembered Jesus’s death for you?
- Did you find the answer you sought in prayer?
- Did you gain great blessings because you gave generously?
- Did a brother or sister help you bear a burden as you assembled?
As you think back over your life and the blessings you’ve gained by worshiping in the assembly, cling to those memories. Make those blessings a reason to worship in the assembly in the future.
David looked forward to being in the assembly in the future: “My lips will praise you;” “I will bless you;” “I will lift up my hands.” David calculated what his worship would look like in the future.
The righteous soul will calculate what his worship will look like in the future. The righteous soul will do whatever is necessary to worship God, for he will make worship a priority.
Here’s what you need to do: You need to calculate your worship in the future. Make a plan for how you will make worship a priority. What do you need to change to be more faithful in your worship attendance? Do you need to go to bed earlier on Saturday night? Do you need to scale back your activities to have Sundays free? Do you need to rearrange family life to make worship a priority?
This week take some time and ask yourself what you need to do to be faithful in your worship attendance. Then carry out your plan and worship faithfully in the future.
If we truly believed “The righteous soul longs to worship God in the assembly,” how would this church be different? Obviously, our worship attendance would be larger more consistently. We’d know each other better, for we’d be spending more time together. We’d set a powerful example about priorities to this community. We’d be ready to welcome newcomers who come to bow before God with us.
What are your priorities this morning?